More than 130,000 school pupils across Scotland are considering their futures today after receiving their exam results.
The number of awards handed out by the Scottish Qualifications Authority has risen but results at Higher level have fallen for the fourth year in a row.
Qualifications play an important role in allowing young people to pursue their ambitions
Students for schools and colleges across the country sat tests for National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers. More than 60,000 students opted to get their results by text or email.
SQA chief Fiona Robertson, Scotland’s chief examining officer, said: “First and foremost, I would like to congratulate each and every candidate who received results today.
“Qualifications play an important role in allowing young people to pursue their ambitions, whether that be continued education and training, or entering into employment.
She added: “We are proud to offer a broad range of qualifications which ensures educational attainment is as accessible as possible, and provides learners with the right skills and knowledge to meet the requirements of employers, training providers and educators.”
A total of 636,085 courses were sat during the 2018-19 academic year. That is a rise of 1,754 on the previous 12 months.
The pass rate for National 5 exams rose slightly to 78.2%. However the number of A-C grades handed out for Higher courses fell by two percentage points to 74.8%.
Higher passes have fallen every year since the course was revamped in 2015.
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Deputy Scottish First Minister John Swinney defended the decline and said variation from year to year was “expected”.
He said: “I am pleased to see an overall rise in the pass rate for National 5 with increases in passes for maths and English. At Higher Level we have seen a welcome upturn in the collective number of passes for the sciences – something we have focused out efforts on for some time.”
Mr Swinney added: “We need to continue to ensure teachers have the right support in place to help them provide the best learning and teaching experiences for our young people.”
So what advice is available to young people?
Pupils who are uncertain about their future – whether they did not get the results they hoped for or are simply unsure of what to do next – have plenty of options.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has a helpline with information for students, parents and carers.
The helpline – which can be contacted on 0808 100 8000 – is open from 8am to 8pm today and tomorrow, then from 9am until 5pm on weekdays until August 14.
SDS have plenty of advice for those students were better than expected as well.
Childline, the children’s charity, have counsellors available on 0800 11 11 to help students who may be worried about their results.
Pupils can also get help directly from the SQA candidate advice line: 0345 279 1000.
Leanne Ferries from the charity said: “We encourage every pupil who has not received the grades they wanted to remain calm and positive and realise that next week’s results are not the end of the world.”
Exam results for pupils across the UK who took AS and A level courses will be published on Thursday, August 15. That will be followed by GCSE results the following week on Thursday, August 22.